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If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of harming themselves, please call 911. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or text “WYO” to 741-741 for the Crisis Text Line.

Dear Casper,

Healthy Natrona County, a health coalition initiative, is calling on Natrona County parents to stay involved and informed about both substance and suicide prevention in their children’s lives. Time goes by quickly, so don’t wait another minute to talk with your child about mental health and the risks of alcohol, vaping, and tobacco.

A shocking 90% of all Americans with an addiction started using substances before they were 18. Not only does Wyoming have the highest suicide rates among both adults and youth recorded in 2020, but its youth also uses alcohol more than any other substance. Parents can change the narrative by talking about substance and suicide prevention with their children.

Nearly one-fifth of surveyed Natrona County parents say their child doesn’t use substances or they don’t need to worry about their child using substances. Yet over two-thirds of Natrona County youth say they have drank alcohol under their parent’s supervision. The solution? Start the conversation with your child about mental health and substance use and don’t be your child’s supplier for alcohol or other substances.

Healthy Natrona County advises parents to talk with their children about the risks of underage drinking and other substances despite the assumption their child does not, or has not, used substances. Not only does substance prevention keep our community safe and healthy, but your child’s brain development is severely harmed by substance use. During adolescence, short-term memory, impulse control, rule learning, organization, and decision making are all affected by alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use.

While it’s important to know the risks and impacts of substances on our youth, knowing when to have these conversations, what to say, and where to find resources can be a challenge for parents. Healthy Natrona County is a resource hub for parents looking for resources on underage drinking, youth vaping, and suicide prevention. On their website, parents can find Parent Talk Kits for underage drinking and youth vaping, as well as suicide prevention resources.

Parents, the clock is ticking and now is the time to talk with your child about substance prevention and mental health. Every second counts when it comes to your child’s health and safety. Learn more at healthynatronacounty.org and follow Healthy Natrona County on Facebook and Instagram for more tips, talking points, and information.

Healthy Natrona County